Superintendent: SCOTUS decision on Bremerton coach retains separation of church and state
Following Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that a Bremerton football coach was protected by the Constitution in praying after games, the Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal is calling the decision an affirmation of the separation of church and state.
The Court’s ruling confirms that public school employees have a right to pray during school activities, provided the religious act is not a part of an employee’s official responsibilities.
“Individuals have always held express rights to exercise their own faith within reasonable limits in public spaces,” Superintendent Reykdal wrote in a news release.
“This ruling affirms that right, but it also retains the long-held understanding that church and state (public entities) are separate. Schools will not embrace a particular faith or compel any individual to participate or recognize any faith or religious practice.”
“Washington state’s long history of civil rights and religious freedom will not be altered by this ruling,” Reykdal continued. “Students and staff will remain free of any sanctioned religious beliefs or practices in the course of their public education.”
It remains illegal for public school employees to coerce students and staff to engage in any religious practices as a condition of participation in school activities.